Caffeine is one of the very few supplements that can actually enhance our performance. The substance activates certain areas in our brain that make us feel better during exercise. It enables us to push a harder and concentrates on the task on hand. Not surprisingly, sport nutrition companies add caffeine to drinks, gels, chewing gum, electrolytes and (wine)gums.
How does it work?
When you take a sip from a caffeinated drink, suck on a wine gum or take special caffeine chewing gum, the caffeine is quickly taken up by our saliva. It sends a signal to our brain and starts to work almost immediately. After 45 minutes the concentration of caffeine reaches it highest level after which it starts to decline.
How do I use it?
Even very small doses of caffeine have a direct effect on the brain. But for the optimal effect, you take 3-6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight. To benefit from caffeine throughout your race you divide the total amount across all three disciplines. For example: take 1 portion of 50-100 mg just before the swim and take gels, gums or caffeine drinks every 30 minutes on the bike and run segment. Be aware: for a full distance, you might be able to take a bit more than 6 mg/kg. But for shorter distances: more will not make you go faster. But will probably increase your risk for GI discomfort. Make sure to test the use of caffeine before your important race.
What can I take?
Gels usually have 25, 50 or 100 mg of caffeine. Electrolytes usually give you 75 mg per tablet and wine gums add 20-75 mg per portion.